KLINGONS – A STAR TREK SPECIES OVERVIEW
Klingons originated on the planet Qo’noS (pronounced Kronos).
The origin of this mighty warrior race was told in myths. The Klingon Gods forged the heart of the first Klingon, Kotar, out of fire and steel. They created a mate, Shelka, for him when they saw he needed companionship. Together these first Klingons destroyed their gods and turned their heavens to ash. As punishment Kotar was condemned to pilot the Barge of the Dead. The myths say they were separated forever (which gods were left to punish is unknown).
Evolution and Physiology
Klingon evolution had a rooted common ancestry with Humans, Vulcans, Cardassians, and Romulans, as the DNA had been seeded across the universe by an unknown progenitor. Klingons evolved quite differently than most of the other species, as the early Klingons were large and heavy. They had an exoskeleton, with spines and plates of bone material, as well as clawed hands resembling pinchers. Facial features included mandibles, venom sacs with an acidic component that fed into glands for defense, and territory markings.
Klingons evolved from having these bug-like features to more humanoid ones, some bald, and some with hair, but the unmistakable Klingon sagittal ridges on the face, along the spine, shoulders, and even on their feet. However, there are some Klingons that were without ridges, due to scientists that meddled with augmented human DNA from the Human’s Eugenics Wars. This experimentation led to the mixing of the DNA and the virus called the Levodian Flu. This new virus affected millions of Klingons before it was stopped, and the effects of the virus were seen in generations after, being passed down. Captain Kirk would encounter Klingon survivors of this virus, marked by their lack of ridges and almost human-like appearance.
Unique properties to Klingon physiology were redundant organs, something they called brak’lul. Having these redundancies allowed Klingons to survive severe injuries. They had two livers, eight chambered hearts, three lungs, two urinary tracts, and twenty-three ribs.
Klingons lifespan could reach 150 years. Klingon children aged quicker than human children. A 1-year-old Klingon had the maturity of a 4-year-old human. At 8, they would have attained the maturity of a 16-year-old Human. When Klingon children began growing into adults, they went through jak'tahla, Klingon puberty. During this time, Klingons would severe mood swings and aggression, hair growth, the appearance of gorches (the Klingon version of pimples), and food cravings.
Klingons, at some point in their history, practiced mummification. Caskets with the Klingon dead dating thousands of years prior to 2256 were incorporated into the ceremonial armor of the Sarcophagus.
Klingon history before Molor is largely unknown. He was a tyrannical dictator using live sacrifices to the planet’s volcanoes for his pleasure and to terrify his subjects. Kahless the Unforgettable, a commoner, became a champion of the people, causing an uprising. He fought, along with Lukara, his great love went against Molor’s troops alone at the battle of Qam-Chee. Their love story is celebrated as the greatest of Klingon history. Kahless would go on to kill Molor, using the first bat’leth, known as the Sword of Kahless, at the River Skral Battle. This battle is still celebrated in the Empire through the Kot'baval Festival yearly.
After Kahless united all Klingons, he disengaged from society and announced he was leaving. He said he was going to Sto-vo-kor, he pointed to a star and said, "Look for me there, on that point of light." A planet orbiting the star Kahless pointed out was later named Boreth, becoming the most sacred place for Klingons. He gave his word that this is where he would return, and his followers should await his return. Kahless’ legacy created the Klingon Empire, along with the role of Emperor. It would be a dynastic monarchy that lasted over one thousand years. Sompek, known for his conquest of Tong Vey, where ten thousand warriors laid siege. When he finally captured the city, he ordered it razed to the ground with every citizen dead. The Klingon Empire was not unconquerable. A race from the Gamma Quadrant invaded and sacked the planet. Klingons refer to this race as the Hur’q (outsider). They didn’t occupy but they did loot, taking important legacies of Klingon culture such as the Sword of Kahless.
The Second Dynasty ended in a coup by General K’Trelan who assassinated Emperor Reclaw and his entire family. The Empire was run by a council who initiated reforms for 10 years. This brief attempt at democracy ended when the Third Dynasty took power.
By the Earth year 1947, Klingons had achieved war drive. By 2152 they had achieved warp 6. In the Earth year 2016, Vulcans encountered a Klingon ship near the planet H’atoria, where there was a Klingon colony. They were destroyed and this led the Vulcans to adapt a “fire first” rule with the Klingons.
Eventually, the imperial monarchy failed, and the leadership role was reformed into a Chancellor of the Klingon High Council. In this council, there were 24 Great Houses. The Great Hall was the seat of power where departments and the Castes met to bring order to the Empire.
Klingons society suffered through in the 2140s and 50s major violent upheaval that was found to be started by a Cabal whose leader was part of the Temporal Cold War. Evidence of this interference was carried by the courier Klaang who crashed on Earth. Captain Jonathan Archer, over the objections of the Vulcans, delivered Klaang alive to Qo’noS.
In 2154 the Klingon scientists, after finding genetic material from an Augmented Human that had hijacked a Bird-of-Prey, tried to adapt Klingon DNA to improve themselves. Test subjects enjoyed increased strength and intelligence until their neural pathways degraded and they died in overwhelming pain. One of the subjects had the Levodian flu and this mutated to cause a deadly plague that spread to millions of Klingons. The plague was stopped by Klingon scientist Antaak and Dr. Phlox of the USS Enterprise.
Klingon society continued its infighting and by 2256 the Great Houses were in near-constant war with each other. T’Kuvma, a Klingon with a noble background but not a member of the High Council, provoked a war with the Federation at the Battle of the Binary Stars. With his martyrdom, he was able to bring all 24 Houses together to fight one common enemy. The war ended in 2257 when Starfleet, desperate to survive after losing one-third of its ships and twenty percent loss of Federation territory, made a direct assault on Qo’noS. With the threat of the detonation of a hydro bomb in the underground volcanic system being offered and then negated by the handing of the detonator, L’Rell, a follower of T’Kuvma, used it to cement her position and rule with power over the Empire, continuing his plans to unite all the Houses. A peace accord was then signed with L’Rell as High Chancellor on Earth in Paris, France. She assisted Humans in their fight against the AI, Control, and gave Christopher Pike a time crystal from the planet Boreth.
Negotiations between the Klingons and the Federation continued, although tense. That all collapsed in 2267. The Klingons immediately declared war and made a grab for territory, seizing several planets including the strategically important planet of Organia. It was halted just after it was started by the Organians. They affected weapons and negotiated a peace treaty, establishing a neutral zone, and procedures for claiming planets along the borders.
Even with this treaty, there were still confrontations. Notably over the secret Project Genesis, which was a program to terraform planets quickly. The destruction it could wreck on already populated planets made it a possible weapon of mass destruction. Klingon Commander Kruge attempted to obtain the plans and then accuse the Federation of building such a weapon. He was foiled by Captain James T. Kirk.
Kirk was again embroiled with Klingon history when the Qo’noS moon, Praxis exploded causing massive upheavals and issues. The Chancellor of the Klingon High Council, Gorkon, in order to help his people best, proposed a full peace treaty with the Federation. Gorkon was assassinated en route to the meeting with the Federation President. His death was pinned on Kirk, because of Kirk’s long history of confrontations with Klingons and their hand in the death of his son (who was part of Genesis). When he was cleared and the conspiracy revealed, Gorkon's daughter, Azetbur, was appointed as the new chancellor and she continued the peace process. This was known as the Khitomer Accords, which laid the foundation for lasting peace between Klingons and the Federation. Romulans, having plaid a large part in the assignation of Gorkon and the attack on Khitomer where almost all of the 4,000 colonists died, became the primary aggressor with the Klingons. This only made the Klingon and Federation alliance stronger. However, Romulans then helped provoke a Klingon Civil war by backing the Duras family. They lost.
The first Klingon that served in Starfleet was Worf, son of Mogh, aboard the Enterprise- D.
The Federation, Romulans, and the Klingons came together to fight off the Dominion, a major quadrant power in the Gamma Quadrant. Ultimately, the Empire shared in victory with the Federation and the Romulans, after the final defeat of the Dominion at the Battle of Cardassia in late 2375.